Fountain Gate Ministries v. City of Plano

654 S.W.2d 841 (1983)

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Fountain Gate Ministries v. City of Plano

Texas Court of Appeals
654 S.W.2d 841 (1983)

Facts

In 1978 Fountain Gate Ministries (Fountain Gate) (defendant) purchased land in Plano, Texas. On the property, Fountain Gate operated a church, an academy, and a university. The zoning regulation for the property (SF-2) restricted the use of the land to single-family residences, but the regulation made several exceptions, including use for a church and rectory, as well as a public or parochial school. The ordinance limited the definition of school to secondary or primary schools. SF-2 explicitly prohibited use for colleges or universities. Fountain Gate applied for a special-use permit to operate its university, but the City of Plano (Plano) (plaintiff) denied its request and filed for a permanent injunction. A trial court granted the injunction, which prohibited Fountain Gate from using the land for dormitories, offering courses of study, offering college credit, and a range of other activities related to the university. The injunction was crafted to allow certain activities related to Fountain Gate’s operation of its primary school and church. The trial court relied on several findings, including that a majority of applicants to and students of the university were not members of the church. Fountain Gate appealed, contending that the injunction violated the establishment clause and its First Amendment right of free exercise. Central to Fountain Gate’s legal arguments was its contention that the university was inexorably linked to the church and its religious practice. Fountain Gate also argued that the ordinance was overbroad and unrelated to a compelling state interest.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sparling, J.)

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